As Trans Mountain begins drilling under the Fraser River between Surrey and Coquitlam, Indigenous leaders have planned a prayer ceremony.
A four-foot-diameter borehole will be drilled under the river at Port Mann Bridge, emerging on the north side into a public park, according to Coast Protectors, which aims to “defend our land and our environment against Trans Mountain and climate change.”
A blowout during construction, or an oil spill during operation, “would have catastrophic consequences for the iconic Fraser and the most important salmon runs in the world,” the group warns.
In response, a ceremony to “pray for the safety of the salmon, ecosystems and cultural heritage that depend on a healthy Fraser river” is planned for 2 p.m. Saturday (May 29) at Coquitlam’s Maquabeak Park, with speakers and tours to the nearby drill site. Scheduled speakers include Kukpi7 Judy Wilson (executive board member of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs), Joe Foy (Wilderness Committee) and Sara Ross (Community Nest Finding Network/Protect the Planet Stop TMX).
3, 2, 1….blast off 🚀
Yesterday we kicked off tunnel boring! It may look a bit like a spaceship, but that's actually the inside of the machine that will bore the 2.6 km tunnel connecting #Burnaby Terminal & Westridge Marine Terminal.
— Trans Mountain (@TransMtn) May 27, 2021
In early March, a dozen faith-based protestors formed a prayer circle at the Burnaby Trans Mountain construction site, which is undergoing tree clearing as part of the project.
Prep work to build the Surrey section of the expanded Trans Mountain pipeline began last fall.
The Edmonton-to-Burnaby oil pipeline will be routed alongside South Fraser Perimeter Road in the Fraser Heights area, before crossing under the river north to Coquitlam, on a path just east of Port Mann Bridge.
The Surrey section of the “twinned” pipeline will be 11.5 kilometres in length.
News of the construction timeline was included in a Sept. 16 release about a “Community Benefit Agreement” that Trans Mountain, a federal Crown corporation, signed with the City of Surrey.
The pipeline builder will contribute $500,000 toward enhancing the local trail network in the Fraser Heights area of Surrey, as part of the corporation’s “commitment to ensure the expansion project benefits as many people as possible.”